Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I've made this lentil salad a lot recently. It started off with just lentils, coriander, rocket, sultanas and walnuts. I now add goats cheese and my own maple syrup dressing too. 

It is best to soak your lentils over night.

I'll be eating this tonight, when I get back from yoga.

PS- don't think I being health freak and totally pious (those that know me, know this is not true...)-I am just choosing not to blog about the super sweet banana and honey muffins I made last night...that were totally delish!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Ugandan Story-framed

I was so excited to pick up my special piece of Ugandan art work from the framers!

I got this as a leaving gift...to myself, when I left Uganda. It was packed straight into the movers boxes and has been away getting framed...until I could afford to pick it up!

The bark cloth batik, by Ivan Yakuze, tells a little story about my time in Uganda and every time I look at it I find something else that I love.

I love the book shelves reminding me of the book club I used to be in (it looks like a wee person-don't you think?) and the safari truck-that was my first safari in Uganda, when I came over from Kuwait with Sven, Jane, Ange and Scott-we went everywhere...and I had my interview for my job that holiday. Actually- I think my favourite part is the cutlery-as I used to be in a cook club in Uganda-which, for the most part was a culinary disaster as the cooks always drank too much!Hehe!

 What do you think?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This is what yoga does to you...

I spent nearly 9 hours on the mat this past weekend. Apparently I was glowing on Monday...but I was walking like a cripple. (I played tennis that afternoon and couldn't pick up the ball...this helped my game apparently, as I won, by-the-by!)

I am trying to be more mindful in my actions, to be in moment. To listen to my body, but not use that as an excuse to be lazy. To take my time when I eat and to only eat when I am hungry and to make my choices count.

So, last night I tried reeeeaalllly hard to make my two red-grape martinis last! (Haaaa!)

Monday, January 23, 2012


Current guilty pleasure: Red Grape Martinis...seriously amazing.

Current blogging about: nothing-now I have bored everyone to death with tales of Ethiopia...my mind is blank...that is why I am writing this!

Current fashion trend: Annabelle Thom's long kanga skirts with a black vest. So Mama Africa but I don't care!

Current drink: I have actually drank very little since my Christmas holiday. I am though, drinking too many soft drinks...so must try to kick my coke habit! (oh-just realised that may not be true...forgot about the martinis...they are obviously only drank on week nights!)

Current food: Cheese and Zanzibar chutney on toast. The cheese and bread are just an excuse to eat the BEST chutney in the world!

Current playlist – My i-pod has gone walkabouts, but when I am home, with my laptop, I am listening to Michael Kiwanuka and The Idan Raichel Project - both very chilled out. Check them out.

Current TV Show – Watching Downton Abbey. Late, as usual, to jump on this wagon...but it is SO good! I have just finished season one (I tried to make it last a week!!) and about to start the second!

Current Celeb Crush -Ewan McGregor. I have been re watching bits of A Long Way Down (so not to watch all of Downton in a day!)...and really, I know we would get along soooo well!!!

Current excitement –Ahhh-my friend is pregnant! I have a reason to buy cute African tat for a baby!

Current bane of my existence -Finding fuel!

Current wish list – A nice set of kitchen weighing scales.

Current website -  I try to not go on any clothes/bags online shops...(If I were to though, I would go on the Anthropologie website), but I have just been told about Yoga Journal so discovering that site.

Currently delaying – Levelling pieces of writing....this week I WILL do it!

Current Mood -Last night I was exhausted from over 8 hours of yoga on the weekend, but now I feel great! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let's Do the Time Warp - Addis Ababa

Apart from the very modern airport in Addis (with, by the way, the friendliest immigration officers that I have EVER encountered!); arriving in Ethiopia was like going back in time.

My friends that arrived from Uganda argue that the city is more advanced than Kampala, and in some ways it is: wide avenues and smooth roads, pavements, fast Internet and a few shiny buildings (there was even a lift in our hotel!). But to me, it was a bit like visiting a poor-mam's Cairo, just with less traffic. (Have I been in shiny Nairobi to long!?)

We walked around the Piassa avoiding stepping on the drunks on the pavements, the many beggars on street corners and passing the market stalls that were selling Ethiopian airlines flight socks, toothbrushes and eye masks. Enterprising! In honesty, I don't think I was prepared for the city. A St.George (one of the local beers) at the oldest hotel in the city was in order.

The Health and Safety officer has not made it to Ethiopia yet. You can smoke anywhere, even encouraged. At one hotel my friend asked if she could smoke in the lobby, the reply was along the lines of  "Of course, at my pleasure". Actually, in every hotel we stayed, even smoking in the bedroom was acceptable, however you were advised to not smoke in your bed. (There is obviously a story there!).

Taking a shower was also frightening.

Hello! See anything wrong in that picture!?

In fairness, this was my first impression on day 1. But since my friends and I went to explore the city, armed with an 11 year old guidebook, it took us a while to see the Addis that others might first encounter.

Returning to Nairobi was like going back to the future...lifts AND escalators. I kid you not!

 PS- talking of lifts-have you seen this voice recognition clip. It is soooooo funny.

Eleven! Eleven!ELEVEN!!!

(PPS- I think I have finished telling my stories about Ethiopia. I still have one that I may share...but it all seems like a long time ago now. Sure you will be glad of that!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NOT a fuel shortage

So, what happens when petrol prices in Nairobi go down? A petrol shortage, obviously!

Not quite a shortage. An artificial one. A shortage for me, but not for the oil companies who are (accused of) hoarding it. Dealers are storing it all up, refusing to fill up my tank.


Long lines at the stations, causing blocked roads. Stuck in 'the jam', the arrow on my dial drops further. Four wasted tries, hand waving, being told 'not today mama'. I did make it to work, dang and blast, but I wasn't sure where else I would make it to. I spent the day fretting. Drivers from school being sent off on a search. The mobile is brought to life with news of fuel. Another wasted journey, the precious liquid is gone by the time the Surf is there. I told my class to send out the search party if I didn't make it in tomorrow...but they got excited at the thought of a pirate doing supply teaching (where does it come from!? a story to be written tomorrow perhaps, I maybe should find a wig and a hook!) and my dilemma was quickly forgotten about.

On the positive side...it made going to the supermarket a breeze. I did not swear once in Nakumatt today...I know holy shit pretty good! Nobody is there...they must be in the queue at the petrol station! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Little pieces of happiness

My little cottage, is very little..and was planned by a twat badly!  But, it is filled with things that make me smile.

Having a small dinner party this week inspired me (after-but nonethelss-inspired me) to hang up some photos and paintings. Now that I have figured out my sofa folds into a bed (!) I'm not planning on moving at the moment.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Anyone for coffee?

Ethiopia is the only African country never to have been colonised (it is debatable whether Liberia was colonised or not). This statement was repeated again and again on our visit; Ethiopians are naturally very proud of this.

I vaguely remember my facts from lessons taken in the hot and sticky classrooms in Kuwait. It was hard to keep my eyes open in History to be honest. But basically, Mussolini joined the scramble for Africa and part of the country was occupied by the Italians. Haile Selassie asked the League of Nations (which both Italy and Ethiopia were members of) for help, but it was refused and Italian East Africa (now Eritrea) was formally recognised. When World War II broke out in Europe, Britain (and Allied forced) stepped in to defeat the Italians in Ethiopia. (Or something like that...right, Mr Steve?)
But, considering the Italians were only in Addis Ababa for 5 years (I think. Tim?) the colony effort has made an imprint on the city.

The coffee culture in Ethiopia goes further back than the Italian occupation, but the Italian past is present. The many cafes around the Piassa are busy with men standing at bars, chatting about the days events while they drink a quick macchiato.  Calling 'Ciao!' (really) before they continue on with their day.  It is quite bizarre.

We spent the holidays comparing the coffee in different regions, but couldn't find better (or cheaper - 5 macchiatos cost just over $1!) than Tomoca Coffee, our favourite place in Addis.

(I stole Kelly's photo-thank you!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

back to school

I made this "Back-to-school-banana-choc-chunk cake" the other day.

 Then spent the rest of the day dreaming of the chairs I would like in my bookshop/cafe/gallery. Productive!

And then I spent the whole yoga session wondering how my thighs got so big!

PS- I got the recipe from here. Blame her!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This is the year to...

I have been thinking of some things I want to achieve this year. Not really resolutions,but a kind of 'to'do list for the year; things to look forward to. Some a short term goals...as in this week/month and some longer.

  • Finish unpacking my boxes from Uganda! (This is obviously a short term goal!) By the end of the week month, I want to have emptied my last three boxes. If I didn't miss it I will throw it out or donate it.(I have already done one this week...two more to go!)
  • Find hooks an hang up paintings and photos (seriously, along with 'get a scart lead' this has been on my 'to-do list' since I arrived...it is not as easy at it sounds!)
  • Start pottery classes - I have a feeling I will enjoy the process, even though the end product will probably be quite crap! I have got so far as to find out when/where I can take them-next step would be to attend one!
  • Take some Swahili lessons - On occasions I open my mouth and Arabic or Lugandan or gibberish comes out. At the moment I keep wanting to say "amasegunallo" (Thank you, in Amharic")-a bit more Swahili would be nice, if only to convince KWT that I only need to pay residents rates!
  • Hash- Even if I only go twice this year, I want to Hash again and meet some other slow runners!
  • Try new recipes more - I'm not going to make life more challenging by putting a time frame on this, like one a week/month- but  I want to be a bit more experimental in my kitchen (if you can call it that!). So, earlier this week I thought I would try a gluten-free chocolate chocolate cheesecake that I saw on this blog, then my friend at 3Limes tried it and said it was yummy. So, no excuses. But, I couldn't find all the ingredients it called for (...like sugar or graham crackers...no sugar, but found sour cream...(!) so I used icing sugar and found  diet-free digestive biscuits, so I thought I would use those! Note to self-just because they are expensive and has the word 'Gullon' on the box, does not mean they are gluten-free! Sorry dinner guest!
Hmmm-tasted SO much better than it looked!
There is one BIG goal that I have been thinking about for a while. But if I tell people I am doing it, then I don't do it, I've failed. Where as, if I don't tell anyone, I just didn't do it...right?

OK-here goes. A marathon would be great-NYC for my 30th would be even better. But, as it is so expensive, that is not on my lists-as it might not be achievable. So, I have been thinking about trying to do 12 in 12. 12 half marathons in 12 months. As I am so incredibly unfit, and can only run 8km at the moment a bit behind schedule,  I will have to try and do more than one half in some months later in the year. Haaaaaaa-who am I kidding!!! I'm not even drunk writing this! I think this is achievable!

I am really looking forward to what lies ahead this year. My Kenyan tour company (!) will be starting properly this year...I'm just waiting for the first customers to book-up! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Outtakes

Everyone wants to get a good photo on their holiday, right? So, 4 people on holiday...how many cameras...like 6..!!?

(Seriously-I bet that none of my friends...including myself...even know where we were at this point!)

I took a ridiculous amount of photos of Bleeding Heart Baboons (or mountain monkeys)...why? I deleted all but one. I don't even like the things!? Truth be told, we all got a bit done with taking photographs-I didn't take my camera out of its case for the last 3 days.

I did take some good photos (for me). But I also took c**p  ones. (Hey-Bridget said it doesn't count if you put the stars in!)

(Really UNESCO- your subtle shelters ruined my photos!)

 (Taking photos, whilst riding a mule uphill, was never going to go well!)

But...we did have fun taking some silly pics...like tying to perfect the jump and smile photograph..(Maybe it is an American thing, as I think I found it the most difficult to do this..!?)


Another tricky photo was of the group trying to do a fist pump (now, I know this was my idea...but again.. for us Brits this is quite tricky. I expected my old work colleagues Brandie or Heather to run up to me at any time and want to 'hussle' or high-five me!)-but we did get half-decent photo in the end. You can see it here on Fist Pump Friday.

Happy Friday!

* Just read that the person that designed the UNESCO shelters/covers for the churches, won a competition.  This designer came first!!??

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ethiopia - the essentials

While it is still fresh in my mind, I thought I would write a little packing list for those travelling to Ethiopia, specifically the North. If, like me, you have done (did) no research into what you might need to take with you on holiday, this may be useful! (Read-learn from my mistakes!)

  •  lip balm - an essential item. It is super dry in the North or the country and your lips become so chapped it is hard to smile without them cracking. My friends and I were all swapping methods of how to help them recover - the best being to use a sugar cube to rub Vaseline into your lips (great tip Sib!). 
  • thick moisturising cream - your lips are not the only part of your body to get dry! The cream will also come in use for any chaffing that might arise after long mule journeys! Mary how did you do it??
  • warm clothes- one jumper is not enough. Think woolly socks, or tights and boots for the evening in Addis.
  •  plastic bags-although this item is not essential, but if you are a twat they may come in handy. At each church we visited (yes, all 51 of them!) you take off your shoes before you enter. We noticed that some anal tourists decided to have there feet in plastic bags, inside their shoes. Then when they take there shoes off their feet are still in the bags. Genius...or ridiculous...you decide!
  • hats- it is hot during the day, that together with the high altitude is quite a combination; take a sunhat. As soon as that sun goes down, it is mighty cold-my advise is to take a woolly hat -or if you don't have one of those-a Santa hat will suffice!

  • fly repellent (sure there must be such a thing!)- seriously, the flies in Ethiopia are like no others. It was not the famine in 1984 that made these winged annoyances crawl all over lips- they are EVERYWHERE all the time; mouths, ears, lips, eyes. If you are going for plastic bags, you may as well throw in one of those netted hats!!
  • an extra bag - why? well, if you are like my friends, you will need it for all the things you haggle for and eventually buy in the markets. (Hey-not that I'm saying that 4, 5, 6, 7 8 crosses isn't one to many!! And no lady can have too many scarves!)

  •  Sopadeine - (or another pain-relief pill!) an essential for most holidays (or events...right Jo!), but sun, high altitude AND teg (Egyptian honey wine) followed by beer and tequila, oh and I nearly forgot about the khat does not make a 9 hour car journey very pleasant.
Weighing the khat-the leaf of all evil!
  • Motion/travel sickness tablets- read above; also useful for journeys on boats, burgads (tuk-tuks) and mules!
  •  An up-to-date guidebook -( not that I am dising the 1998 Spectrum, honest Sibyl!) although some things, like the 12th Century churches haven't changed much, it is good to have. Or better yet, get a guide! Our tour was organised by Tarik at Yama Tours and was fantastic. He soon got to know us and modified removed all hikes physical exercise from our itinerary and added in more time for relaxing to shop and drink! It was a holiday after all! We spent 12 days in the North of the country and really you couldn't do it justice in less (but you could cut out more drive time with cheap internal flights)-I will have to go back one day to explore the South of the country!

And...don't forget your toothbrush!

PS-Hand sanitizer, Imodium and re-hydration salts are a given...! Obviously!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Christmas Story in Photographs-Ethiopia

Addis Ababa

Bahir Dar/Lake Tana

Gondar and the Simien Mountains